.

Q&A: Aerosmith Reflect on 43 Years of Rock

Joe Perry: 'We made a deal with the devil and haven't been able to get out of it.'

April 11, 2013 10:00 AM ET
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith attend a press conference and presentation of the ASCAP Founders Award at Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas in West Hollywood, California.
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith attend a press conference and presentation of the ASCAP Founders Award at Sunset Marquis Hotel & Villas in West Hollywood, California.
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry will be honored with the Founder's Award for songwriting at this year's ASCAP Expo, to be held next week in Los Angeles. It's part of a banner spring for the duo, who were also selected for induction into the Songwriting Hall of Fame and are co-headlining in Australia with Van Halen. Shortly before takeoff, the veteran rockers sat down with Rolling Stone at NightBird Recording Studios in West Hollywood, where they discussed the pleasures of live performance and how they dealt with early criticism, which Tyler admits "Hurt the first few years."

Awards offer an opportunity to reflect. When you look back, which moments stand out?

Steven Tyler: We come from an era when "Sweet Emotion" and "Back In The Saddle" were considered dark and we weren't accepted. We were just a B-side album band. We were never a singles band. Then the Eighties came along with "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)." I listen to that now and I think, "What?" It's fun to hear, kind of like "Wooly Bully," but were we trying too hard to be a singles band? It doesn't fucking matter. We've been strung out and sober. We've sold in and we've sold out. Some days we didn't even sell at all. What matters is we're still together as a band.

Joe Perry: One of the things that really hits the nail on the head is the time Steven and I got a phone call from our manager telling us we went to number one with "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing." That was our first number one single. We looked at each other and said, "Holy shit! That's great, but I thought for sure we had a number one in there somewhere." And then we just put the phone down and went back to what we were doing. We've been such a live band for so many years, the only time I remember thinking, "Wow, we've got something," is when we aimed for something that would carry the day live. 'Cause that's what we do – we're here to entertain the crowd.

Steven Tyler and Joe Perry Picked for Songwriters Hall of Fame

You mentioned being a B-sides band. Does that mean songwriting awards carry an extra special weight for you?

Steven Tyler: They feel really good. But we've always just played our music and haven't given a shit. Still, the "Cheap imitation of the Rolling Stones" criticism was constant. And it hurt for the first couple of years. It was constantly Mick Jagger this and Mick Jagger that – that I copied him, and Janis Joplin too. Mick was the cheapest, easiest shot. "Well, he looks like him, so let's write about that."

Joe Perry: You could tell that they weren't listening, because we definitely weren't sounding like the Stones.

Steven Tyler: Done our best to try to, though.

Joe Perry: We steal from everybody. Amateurs copy and pros steal, and we're professionals. We make no bones about the fact that we took from the people that came before us.

Joe Perry: Aerosmith Are 'Getting Along Better Than Ever'

Many bands that take a break, whether forced to or by choice, come back feeling rejuvenated. Has that ever been the case for you?

Steven Tyler: We've never been apart longer than two years. I've watched that premise with everybody else, though – just recently my dear friend Mick Fleetwood got back together with his guys after five years. We've toured when there were no albums, when management said, "you're not gonna make any money," but we did.

Joe Perry: I've seen bands split up for five years and do nothing. That sounds great to me, but it just hasn't worked out that way. We joined this club for better and for worse – made a deal with the devil and haven't been able to get out of it. But we've been lucky enough to fall back on each other. If a couple of guys aren't working right, the others pull it back together. It's always worked like that.

Steven Tyler Slams 'Spinal Tap' in Rare Library of Congress Interviews

Are you looking forward to playing with Van Halen? Who else is on your bucket list?

Joe Perry: I'm really looking forward to it. There's been talk about us co-headlining for years. But they're one of those bands that do a cycle then split, so it's been really hard.

Steven Tyler: I would take a pay cut to play with AC/DC. It's one of my last things to do, go on tour with them. I don't really care about the money, and I don't care about some great review. It's more about the fans – it's always been about them.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com